Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Sarah Ferguson

Abstract

This project is a qualitative research study used to explore the experiences of older adults who have written advance directives. Advance directives are an often underutilized tool used by individuals to outline plans for end-of-life care, in the anticipation that the individual may not be able to verbalize his or her decisions when the time comes for choices to be made regarding care. The experiences of individuals who have written an advance directive may help clinical social workers when working with clients who are considering writing an advance directive. For the purpose of this study, six participants were recruited for a focus group in a Midwestern city using flyers posted at the focus group location. Participants were required to be at least 65 years old and have completed a form of an advance directive. The focus group found that participants had a positive experience writing an advance directive and that family members, namely children, were involved in the decision making process. Respondents agreed that they wrote advance directives to decrease potential burden to family members and had certain wishes that they wanted carried-out in the case that they become unable to verbalize them. Overall, focus group respondents agreed with literature review findings, but spoke of themes in a more personal and individual manner. Further research should be conducted with multiple focus groups in a larger geographic area with more varied demographics. Also, further research comparing similar individuals without an advance directive may help identify barriers to completion of directives.

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